Shooter Brown: Class of 2020
I first met Shooter Brown as a shaggy haired third grader who went by the name of Leslie. I was a first year teacher, and my first impression of him was of a kind, easygoing kid with a good sense of humor. It didn’t take long for Leslie to warm up enough to approach me for a little chat about his name. He explained that his grandpa’s nickname for him was “Shooter,” and that he would like to start going by that name in class. He had some negative past associations and experiences related to his given name, and I told him that as long as his dad was ok with it, it was fine with me. Once we got the green light from his dad, we swapped out the name tag on his desk and changed the name on all his books and anywhere else it was posted in the classroom, and from that moment on, we all called him Shooter.
I have lots of fun memories of Shooter during his time in my 3rd and 4th grade class. I had never been much of a country music fan, but Shooter did his best to change my mind, including bringing in CDs of a couple of his favorite artists and performing a song for our class show and tell.
I’ve always felt like Shooter was an “old soul.” When we lost our dear, sweet, insanely long-haired class pet (a guinea pig affectionately named “Miss Fuzz Bucket”), Shooter brought in his bearded dragon to serve as our class pet for the rest of the year. He had named her Lucille after Lucille Ball, and we called her Lucy for short. What kind of nine year old kid names his bearded dragon after Lucille Ball? A ridiculously cool one, that’s what.
After two years of teaching Shooter, it was several years before I saw him again. One year ago, I was asked to be a judge at Horizon Christian School's band fundraiser, "Horizon's Got Talent." I was impressed with all the talent that was on display, from singers to dancers to musicians stand up comedians, to name a few. It was so fun to watch Shooter take to the stage with his guitar and engage the audience with a confident yet ever friendly and easygoing manner. My jaw almost hit the floor when he started his rendition of "Go Rest High On That Mountain," and apparently I was not the only judge in awe of the show. Shooter took first place by unanimous decision.
However, his performance on the stage was not the most impressive thing Shooter did that day. Later on, when the band director tried to give Shooter his prize money, he donated it back to the music department, stating that he hadn’t participated for the money and hadn’t expected to win anyway; he just wanted to sing.
What kind of seventeen year old passes up a cash prize and gives it back to his school’s music department? I think you can probably tell by now.
The amount of time that my life intersected with Shooters was relatively short, but I am so incredibly proud of the responsible, generous young man he has become. I was thrilled when I got a message from him about taking his senior photos, and I had a blast taking these with him at his and his dad’s house in Parkdale, Oregon.
The white car in these pictures is a ’51 Ford Custom Victoria that runs great and is completely original besides the engine and transmission that Shooter and his grandpa replaced together, and the black one is a 1950 Ford Custom Convertible that he’s in the process of restoring.
During the shoot, I talked Shooter into playing and singing another song. (After all, pictures of people doing real things always turn out better than people pretending to do things.) This time his version of “Long Black Limousine” almost moved me to tears. I may never have been much of a country music fan before, but I have to say that if anyone is capable of winning me over, it is Shooter Brown. And Shooter, when you release your first album, I will be right there to buy it!
Post Script: I really hope he doesn’t kill me for posting these, but I just couldn’t help it. Here are a few throwback pictures to the good ol’ days of Miss Fuzz Bucket, Lucy the bearded dragon, and third grade show and tell.